Lifestyle, Tragedy

Deadly Machismo I-By Edward Maroncha

As Kawira’s screams pierce the air, drowning all the other sounds of the night, Wambui looks at her husband Murithi apprehensively. She knows that Murithi wants to go and intervene, but she is really praying that he doesn’t. The last time he intervened, he had a nasty fight with his brother Mutegi and ended up with a sprained wrist. Mutegi did not come out of that fight unscathed: he came out with a swollen face from the punches he received from his elder brother. But the person whose welfare Wambui cares about is her husband.

Kawira is Mutegi’s wife and punching bag. Whenever Mutegi comes home drunk, the first order of business is usually to beat up his wife over infractions such as opening the door a minute too late, not warming food to the right temperature, not smiling at him as he eats or whatever other offence he can think of as he spoils for a fight. Some beatings are mild, while others are severe. It all depends on how foul Mutegi’s mood is.

Kawira has always been beaten since she got married, but the beatings have taken a turn for the worse recently. Before, Mutegi would slap her a few times, eat his food while grumbling and then force her to have sex with him before snoring himself into slumber land. But two weeks ago he beat her up until she was hospitalized for a couple of days. That is what prompted Murithi to intervene when his brother started beating up his wife again last week.

Wambui has none of Kawira’s problems. Murithi is the opposite of his brother: he is the perfect gentleman. He has never raised his voice, leave alone a hand, against her.

“Mutegi is going to kill that woman,” Murithi mumbles.

“She is a grown woman, darling. She can walk away anytime, but she chooses to stay. I don’t like blaming the victim, but Kawira has made Mutegi think it is okay to beat her.”

“Even if she were to walk away, where would she go? This is her home.”

“She has a job. She can rent a house and live peacefully.”

“What about the children? She says she stays because the children need to grow up with their father’s love.”

“No, they don’t. Their father is a monster, and nobody wants to live with a monster. You think they are happy seeing their mother facing death week after week? Those children will be traumatized for life.”

As they are talking, another scream joins Kawira’s.

“That is mother,” Murithi says suddenly. “I really need to find out what is going on.”

He bolts out of the door before Wambui can say anything.


Mutegi did not become violent and chauvinistic out of the blue. He is his father’s son. He and his brother are the sons of Zebedee M’Nairobi, a prominent son of Kamaara village in Tharaka Nithi County. M’Nairobi did not teach his sons to be soft and emotional. He wanted them to be true Meru men. He did not teach his sons orally, except on those rare occasions when alcohol made him merry. The boys just observed what he did and they aped him. From a very young age, Murithi and his brother Mutegi looked up to their father for guidance. They adored him for his machismo. To them, he was the man.

In those early days, when they were still little boys, M’Nairobi had little time for them. He had more serious issues to deal with than talking with tuiji (little boys). He often came home late and drunk. Most times he would be in a foul mood, so the children were conditioned to go to bed before he arrived.

But there were a few times when he would come home in a good mood. Those were special moments for Murithi and Mutegi because they were about the only time they would socialize with their father. He would wake up his little boys and invite them to eat with him. He would tell them tales of the great Ameru men in their lineage. He would boast about the bravery of his father, the man who he claimed was Field Marshall Mwariama’s deputy in the Mau Mau. He told them how men in his lineage were never ruled by women like some wimps in a neighboring clan, who allowed their women to even suggest the number of children they should have.

“What a shame!” he would bellow in his drunken slur. “A man is a god on earth. Our ancestors knew that. And we know that. A circumcised man cannot be ruled by a woman. If she does not toe the line, beat her into submission.”

Murithi and Mutegi gobbled up the words whole. Their father was the epitome of manliness. He was feared around the village because of his quick temper. He could turn from a jolly fellow to a raging storm within seconds; nobody wanted to cross him. He was rumored to have broken the jaw of a man with a slap. This tale made Murithi and Mutegi freeze in fear whenever he was beating their mother, Gatune. They did not want their mother to suffer a broken jaw. She never did, although she was often left with a swollen face and sometimes bleeding gums. Once, he broke her right arm and she was forced to cook and wash with her left hand only. Her daughter Kathomi helped, but she was a school got so Gatune had to adapt to working with one hand. In Zebedee’s house, a broken hand is not reason enough for a woman not to perform her wifely duties.

The days when M’Nairobi came home in a good mood were few and far apart. On most days he would come home in a foul mood, spoiling for a fight. He would kick the door and wake up Gatune with insults. He would beat her up for no reason as she scurried around, trying to warm his food.

Gatune took it with grace, and never uttered a negative word against her husband. She was the model wife, and as Murithi grew older, he started to wonder why their father beat her so much. He started resenting the old man, and the older he got, the more his adulation of his father waned. Once, when he was a teenager, he stood up to his father when the old man was beating Gatune. M’Nairobi beat the daylights out of him and proceeded to finish beating his wife. That day was, however, a turning point, and from that day Gatune was beaten less. In fact, ever since Murithi became a fully grown man, M’Nairobi has never laid a hand on Gatune.

 Mutegi, though, followed in his father’s footsteps. He beats up his wife Kawira for whatever reason, or no reason at all.


Gatune is just preparing to go to sleep when Kawira starts screaming. She is used to the screams, but there is something about today’s screams that is sounds unusual.

“That boy will kill his wife one of these days,” she mumbles to her husband M’Nairobi.

“If he is beating her then there is something she is not doing right.”

Gatune does not respond. She does not want to disrespect her husband by disagreeing with his opinion. But she is concerned about her daughter-in-law. She heads to the kitchen and sneaks out through the backdoor and rushes to her son’s house. Mutegi’s house is only a few meters away from his parent’s house, so Gatune gets there in two minutes. The door is open so she goes right into the house.

Inside, she finds Kawira on the floor, screaming and bleeding, while Mutegi continues to punch and kick her.

“Stop it Mutegi. You are killing her,” she shouts at her son.

“Shut up woman. Go back to your husband and leave me to run my home,” he replies drunkenly.

Gatune moves closer and tries to pull him away. But Mutegi swings around and pushes her forcefully towards a wall. She hits the wall with her forehead and screams. Mutegi punches and kicks her. She reels backwards and hits the wall again, before collapsing in a heap, unconscious.


As he runs towards his brother’s house, Murithi is getting increasing worried. His mother screamed only once, and that could be a good thing or a bad thing. Perhaps she has managed to calm him down-that is the good possibility. More likely though, he has hit her badly and she has lost her ability to scream.

Murithi has fenced off his compound, so he has lost some time as he opens the gate. But once he is out of his compound, he sprints towards his brother’s house at top speed. By now, Kawira has also stopped screaming, although as he approaches the house, he can hear her moaning softly.

When he enters his brother’s house, nothing prepares him for the scene that confronts him. Both his mother and sister-in-law are on the floor. Gatune appears to be unconscious, but Kawira is still moaning in pain so she is conscious. She is bleeding profusely. His brother is slumped on the sofa, dozing.

Murithi is a doctor, so he heads first to his mother and touches her wrist. He cannot feel the radial pulse. He tries her neck; the carotid pulse is there, but it is very weak. He calls his wife Wambui, who is also a doctor, and tells her to hurry over with a stethoscope. He wants to be sure. He calls the hospital that he co-owns with Wambui and asks for two ambulances. Then he calls the police.

“What have you done, Mutegi?” he asks. He feels like beating his brother up, but he knows that that will only complicate things.

“I told you to leave my affairs alone,” Mutegi slurs. “Or I will beat you up as well and break your other hand.”

(Continued Here)                                                                  

Image by Alexandra from Pixabay:                                                                          


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